Why we shouldn't be ashamed of literary lying

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Credit: Steve Stock / Alamy 

Go on. Confess. What’s your dirty little literary secret? Proust, Joyce, Dickens, Flaubert…? Which big bad beast of a book have you talked about at dinner parties without having read so much as the inside jacket flap?

According to a new survey, among the most fibbed about works of fiction are Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and George Orwell’s 1984. Almost 40 per cent of literary liars said they had dissembled on Dostoyevsky and told whoppers about Woolf simply to join in a conversation, while 30 per cent admitted it was to seem more intelligent. Just under 20 per cent drew on memories of television or film adaptations, and a desperate 5 per cent had feigned a...

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